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Port Macquarie and the Painted Rocks
Tuesday 8th February 2011 – Port Macquarie, Australia
My mood was a little sad this morning as I had to say goodbye to Newcastle and this great hostel, and set off towards Port Macquarie where I would be continuing my Australian adventure. I wasn’t looking forward to the bus ride though.
I said my goodbyes to Katie this morning as she was headed south back to Sydney, and I was headed north to Port Macquarie. Katie was meeting her boyfriend there, and beginning her proper travel with him. I felt a little sorry for her having to do the whole Sydney thing for a third time. I was sure she was anxious to be getting on with things.
We parted at the train station and it wasn’t long before the train was arriving, and so to my bus just next to the station. I sat for a short while in the sun while I was waiting, and chatted with some others also from the hostel. Then the coach had arrived and we jumped on board.
The air conditioning was very welcome and I thrust my face towards the air flow to get the full benefit. I made myself comfortable and readied myself for the journey ahead. It’s always funny how nobody ever likes sitting next to anyone, and if there is someone walking onto the coach, nobody makes eye contact with that person and often place their bag on the seat next to them to prevent the person sitting down. If you’re the person just getting onto the coach, you feel reluctant to ask anyone if you can use the seat next to them, and if you are the person being asked, you can’t help but feel annoyed. It’s strange seeing as people use travelling as a way to meet people. Anyway, I had two seats to myself for now.
We stopped one hour into the journey to stretch our legs. I think some people had been on the coach for many hours prior to me getting on, so they at least needed the rest. I was happy to be getting on with the journey in all honesty. We grabbed some food, used the rest rooms then set off again.
It was fun looking out the window and seeing all the large trucks sweep by. It reminded me a lot of Florida with the big roads and big trucks. It was nice to see a bit more of the rural Australia as well, instead of just the touristy bits.
Once I had arrived at Port Macquarie I was met by the owner of the hostel – Tony – and taken the short distance back to the hostel. He seemed like a cool guy I thought. He showed me around the hostel and I got a good feeling for the place. It felt homely, and I also saw a few guys from the hostel I had just come from in Newcastle. This hostel – Port Macquarie Backpackers – is a very small place, and aside from myself and the few guys I had just seen, there was nobody else in the hostel, and nobody else waiting to check in today either. Tony went on to tell me that the recent decline in guests, and tourism in general, was due to the recent storms and the media’s attempt to blow it all out of proportion. This had put a lot of people off. As it stands, this place wasn’t even affected by the storms.
We spoke a while and I could tell it was a sore point for him, and I began to question my own ideas about owning a hostel one day. You rely on the guests to make it profitable, but if the people have little money they are less likely to travel, and they may be put off by the littlest of things, so it is not the best business to be getting into I feel.
That afternoon I walked to the nearby Kooloonburg Creek Nature Reserve. The atmosphere was so peaceful and tranquil; that not even the tramps slumped over the benches close by could stop me from enjoying the beauty. I walked along the boardwalk, through the trees and pretty flowers, and then became aware of the screeching coming from the tree tops and all the bats that reside there. The noise became deafening at times. Some local passers by commented on the bats (Flying Foxes) as being a nuisance, and a pest. To me they were fascinating, but then I don’t have to put up with this noise night and day. Maybe then I would change my mind about them.
I strolled next to the marina for some beautiful views across the water. I followed the coastal pathway around to Town Beach where many people had painted the rocks in bright colours, and posted messages and stories, as well as crazy artwork, all over the rocks that lined the pathway. Some dated back many years, yet there were still the odd few rocks that hadn’t been painted yet. I contemplated doing one myself, but I probably won’t.
Oxley beach was next, and the views from here were stunning. Lots of joggers battled for space along the pathway, and I felt as though I was in the way as I walked casually along the main path. I saw much wildlife along the way, namely lizards and birds. One such bird eyeballed me persistently and seemed completely unperturbed by my presence as I walked past somewhat uneasily. I don’t know yet if the birds are dangerous here in Australia. Everything else can potentially kill you, so why not the birds!
I stopped at a takeaway near to the hostel for some chicken, chips and gravy, which was absolutely fantastic, but for my little accident. With my first bite I dropped a chip covered in gravy onto my lap. It then proceeded to roll all down my leg and onto the floor, coating my shorts in a lovely brown stain. There would be no way of covering this up, despite my frantic scrubbing with a serviette each time nobody was looking my way. I was sat by the window overlooking the main road, so I can only imagine what people must have thought as they drove by, looking at this guy rubbing his groin in a takeaway. Anyway, aside from the stained crutch, the food was delicious.
Back at the hostel, I used the free internet for a while, spoke to Tony some more and relaxed. I also changed my shorts of course. In the evening some more guests arrived, but it was by no means busy. It was good to see some new faces at any rate. I had good first impressions of Port Macquarie, although quiet, it is still a lovely place to be.
Written by Daniel Stevens,
Founder of Roundtheworldtrip.org.
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